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Careers in History: Secondary Education

Anneke Branderhorst ('09)

High School Teacher, Minnesota

In Spring 2013, Anneke was honored with the "Courage to Teach" award through Tolerance Minnesota, a program focusing on Holocaust education and education against injustice. Find out more about the award, Anneke's passion for social justice, and her work as a teacher.Anneke with her students and holocaust survivor Erwin Farkas

What kind of school are you teaching in now and what are you teaching?

I graduated from Calvin College in 2009 with a History major, English minor - through the Education program. To be honest, I was quite worried about finding a teaching job after graduating. Yet, thanks to the experience, skills, and support I gained at Calvin, I was blessed to find the perfect job. I am teaching at a small private school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, teaching Social Studies and Language Arts. This specific high school is an experiential type of school where student-led learning is promoted; the whole notion of "school" is different, and I am quite excited about this. More so, this school has a real connection to discernment, community, and a call for social justice - all traits I developed and learned to appreciate at Calvin.

Through my many courses at Calvin, I have learned so much about History. I have learned not only about content but also about approach. I have learned to think critically about my role in history as a Christian, a woman, a Canadian, a North American, a child of God. I have learned to discern, to research, to evaluate, to compare, to initiate, to question, to wonder, to be amazed.

What did you learned about teaching from watching your Calvin History professors?

I have learned how to teach through watching my History professors. My History professors reignited my love for the past, my interest in the present, and my hope for the future. With their fine attention to detail, their interesting reading choices, their valuable questions, their difficult challenges for me, and their belief in each and every student, I grew as a student and as a teacher. One specific professor in the History department has shaped who I am, who I want to be, how I want to teach. I continuously rely on him for planning, content, and support.

How did your study at Calvin prepared you to teach History?

I have learned that teaching history is a true blessing, a great responsibility. I have learned that history must be studied and must be taught in a way that challenges the present to change the future. More so, my studies at Calvin also prepared me to teach History through curriculum support, lesson planning advice, honest conversations, intense debates, and tough challenges. Through understanding my theoretical allegiances, to discussing the current struggles of history teachers, I was able to grow as a teacher.

Any advice you would give students thinking of majoring in History, Secondary Ed?

Teaching history can be a daunting task, and there is much pressure placed on these teachers; yet, I felt equipped, prepared, and able to teach History. I doubted who I was as a historian and as a future teacher during my time at Calvin. However, through the support, struggle, prayer, tears, laughter, debate, discussion, reading, writing - I made it. I would not have made it without a wonderful History program that was honest, intentional, educated, intelligent, and God fearing. Looking back, I would not have had it any other way. I would encourage anyone to consider the History program at Calvin; it changed my life and the lives of my past, present, and future students. Maybe, it could change yours too.

Janelle (Aupperlee) Draayer

High School Teacher, Washington

I am currently teaching in a very small Christian school in Sunnyside, WA. This means that I AM the history department, which is really amazing. I get to pick what I choose to teach and get a lot of variety over the course of my day and year since I get to teach the whole span of the Social Studies courses (and some extras!). As a result, over the year I will teach World History, U.S. History (junior level and senior level), Current World Problems, Church History, Pacific Northwest History, Sociology, Psychology, and even Basic Geometry and P.E.!

What did you learned about teaching from watching your Calvin History professors?

My history professors at Calvin were passionate. They loved learning about their respective areas not only for the purpose of acquiring knowledge, but because they saw its relevance in the way that it shaped their beliefs and their world. This is the key element to all of teaching.

How did your study at Calvin prepared you to teach History?

Calvin not only taught me tips, tools, and strategies for teaching a variety of students, it also taught me how to provide students with life-long learning. At Calvin, I learned how to learn. I learned how to examine and question documents, artifacts, and ideas for the purpose of gleaning what I could from them. I also learned how to question that material in a way in which evidence could be considered and my beliefs or opinions on matters could be changed. This, in turn, is what I am trying to teach my students. My hope is that they use Christian tools of critical analysis to teach themselves about the wider world around them while allowing their beliefs to be shaped by their analysis.

Any advice you would give students thinking of majoring in History, Secondary Ed?

Definitely go for it! With history, you can learn a large variety of things. The scope of the material than can be studied is limitless, yet can be very specific, depending on your interests.


Kaelyn Sullivan ('06)

High School Teacher, Washington

Kaelyn SullivanI graduated from Calvin in 2006 with majors in Secondary Education and History, as well as a minor in Economics. My freshman year, I was undecided on a major, but leaning toward Business. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but I did not know what subject I would teach. History was the furthest thing from my mind; in fact, I hated history in high school. But for interim my freshman year, I was put in a Developing a Christian Mind class related to the Holocaust, which was not on my top three list of choices. Professor Emeritus Wally Bratt was teaching it. During that class, I learned that history was not a black and white set of facts that I imagined; it was full of gray area that was interpreted by historians. This was so interesting to me, and I was certain that I had found the subject I wanted to teach.

Throughout my time at Calvin, I enjoyed learning the story of history, developing research skills, and interpreting primary documents for myself. Taking the African American History calss was especially fascinating because I learned a story of history that is not often told by traditional textbooks. I also really enjoyed writing my capstone paper on the relationship between Malcom X and Elijah Muhammad. The Teaching Secondary Social Studies course, taught by Prof. Schoone-Jongen, gave me so many practical ideas to carry into my teaching.

After graduating, I was surprised and excited to move across the country to Seattle. There i took a job at a Christian school teaching a variety of classes, including American History, Western Civilization, Government, and Yearbook. Seven years later, I am still blessed to teach there. Calvin prepared me to teach the content as well as the critical thinking skills that can be developed in a history class.

If you would like to be a teacher, history is by far the most fun to teach! How can you beat a trench warfare simulation while teaching World War I? It is incredibly rewarding to help history come alive for students. Furthermore, as stated in my school's mission statement, I enjoy helping students develop the thinking skills necessary to help them become dynamic, transforming influences of God's glory.